In the Pegasus issue, the petitioners on Monday did not take kindly to the Centre telling the Supreme Court that it has nothing more to say than what has been said in its first and only affidavit (described as “limited” by the court)- that it does not deem it appropriate to state whether any particular software was employed or not, that there has been no illegal interception, and that it is willing to quell the concerns of the petitioners by constituting an expert inquiry committee.
The following are the arguments by the battery of senior advocates for the petitioners before the bench of Chief Justice N. V. Ramana and Justices Surya Kant and Hima Kohli.
The CJ had told the senior advocates to keep in mind that the proceedings are at an interim stage at present- “You have placed some material before us. We have given enough opportunity to the government to make some statement. They are saying- for whatever reason, I don’t want to make any comment on that- that they don’t want to file an affidavit. We have no option now but to pass whatever order we have to pass. We thought if the government will file some counter-affidavit, how to go further would depend on that. Now we will consider what are the interim orders that we will have to pass”
Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal, for N. Ram, former Editor of The Hindu, and Sashi Kumar, Chairperson of the Asian College of Journalism
Beginning, Mr. Sibal indicated the observations of the Supreme Court in the 2011 case of Ram Jethmalani v. UOI, where the court had noted that the burden of protection of fundamental rights is primarily the duty of the State, and hence, withholding of information from the petitioners, or seeking to cast the relevant events and facts in a light favourable to the State in the context of judicial proceedings, would be destructive to the guarantee in Article 32, and the State has the duty to reveal all the facts and information in its possession to the Court, and also provide the same to the petitioners.
“This is their duty, My Lords. They cannot say that I will not tell anything! What is happening today is that the government and the State are now telling you that we will not tell you the facts. It is its bounden duty! All…